“Yes, meat, no wheat!”
This was my 3-year old daughter’s mantra shortly after being diagnosed with celiac in May 2011.
We call her Bunky. You can too.
Although it had only been a month since her celiac diagnosis (via blood test since we opted out of the “gold standard” endoscopy – more on that later) Bunky already knew that wheat (along with barley, rye and oats) is what made her sick for several months leading up to her third birthday. At her party she barely ate, refusing even the sugar cookie with pink icing that she helped make. Looking back at pictures of that day, her face looked pale and her body emaciated.
Fast forward to a month of eating gluten free, and she not only gained five pounds, but regained her vibrancy, energy, and happiness. Her face of early spring, gaunt and angular, eyes sunken and circled, disappeared. The softness and color returned to her cheeks, and her impish blue eyes sparkle.
At the time of her diagnosis, she couldn’t button up her sweater, showed about zero interest in using the potty (“maybe tomorrow, mommy”) and was afraid of toy robots, yet she completely understood that she couldn’t eat anything with gluten. Accepted it at face value and even made up her own mantra. Strangely, or perhaps not so strangely, she ate more daringly and fearlessly once her body healed. Black bean soup, zucchini and eggs, bowls of brown rice, pickled shrimp, mangos. Things she wouldn’t look at before, she gobbled up and then with her mouth still full exclaimed, “this is good!”
[Sadly this all reverted back to picky kid times a thousand by age 4, but hey, maybe it will happen again someday. A mom can dream, can’t she?]
Now eating and living gluten free is practically second nature to our family, but that doesn’t mean things are easy. We face challenges every day, some minor, some not so minor. But my goal as Bunky’s mom is to help her navigate every challenge and triumph of our gluten free life.